Objectives: Each case of a continuous series of invasive cervical cancer cases was studied with a structured review procedure conducted by an expert panel to assess the reason that it was not detected before it became invasive.
Methods: All cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed in a 5-year period among Connecticut residents were identified; a screening history and screening outcome were obtained for 72% (481 of 664).
Results: Two hundred fifty women (51.9%) had suboptimal screening. One hundred thirty-seven women (28.5%) had never had a screening test, and their mean age was greater than that of the rest of the study population (64.5 years vs 46.5 years). Of the 344 women who had ever had a Pap test, 113 (32.8%) had their last Pap test 5 or more years before their diagnosis of invasive cancer; 52 (15.1%) were not followed up properly; 33 (9.6%) had their last smear misread as normal; and 118 (34.3%) developed cervical cancer within 3 years of their last Pap test.
Conclusions: Physicians, nurses, and other care providers need to ensure that woman have timely and accurate screening with proper follow-up, make increased efforts to reach older women, and improve quality control of Pap smear readings.